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This entry was originally posted by my friend Joshua McGee (@mcgeesorg) at his website.  I am reposting it with his permission.

What I Believe

Regarding the shared bits of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Mormonism, etc., here it is, in second person:

I believe that your God was the favorite tribal deity of a polytheistic, nomadic, historically insignificant Bronze Age people living in North Africa and the Near East.  Through a bizarre historical accident, a tiny messianic doomsday cult of this people was adopted as the state religion of the most powerful empire on the planet, despite the utter failure of any of the doomsday prophecies to transpire in the allotted time.

I believe your shared “testament” is a heterogeneous anthology of self-aggrandizing revisionist history, stolen legal codes, institutionalized bigotry, justifications for ethnic cleansing, “Just So” stories, the ravings of the mentally ill, census data, a sprinkling of common sense, and some truly beautiful poetry and children’s literature, all of which was rolled together and authorship attributed to a deity, which means to many of you that it has to be 100% factually accurate, even when it’s internally inconsistent or demonstrably wrong.

I believe the premise and existence of the modern state of Israel is at least as bizarre as if my family declared ownership of the British Isles, invaded, subjugated the citizenry, imposed martial law, renamed the nation “Gondor”, and declared war on Western Europe.

I believe that were we to argue theology, I’d argue to the point where we agreed that your god is undetectable, untestable, unpredictable, inelegant, unnecessary, paradoxical, and at least one of impotent, malicious, and completely incomprehensible, not to mention just plain weird, at which point I’d consider the topic not worth any further thought, you’d declare ineffability a feature rather than a bug, and I’d look at you as if you’d turned into a walrus in front of my eyes.

I believe people who “sort of” believe in God, “don’t really think about it”, “guess they do”, or find it the path of least resistance, are pussies leading unexamined lives.

I will, however, fight tooth and nail for your right to engage in your superstitions in your own home or normally-taxed buildings, or very quietly and personally in public.  I believe it is your right to live an unexamined life, in the same way that it is my right not to exercise, even though I know failing to will contribute to my early death.  I get it, kinda: we all have mental blocks.  I will even tolerate you indoctrinating your own children, although I really wish you wouldn’t, in the same way I wish Jews would stop mutilating the genitals of their male infants and Mexicans would stop piercing the ears of their female infants.

So there.

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